SEMI: Chip demand slips heading out of 2010

January 24, 2011 – Appropriate for ski season, it looks like the clear view of semiconductor equipment demand is heading down a slope, according to data from North America-based makers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, reported by SEMI.

The December, and preliminary full-year 2010 numbers, in a nutshell:

  • Bookings were up slightly (1.4%) from November to $1.53B. Year-on-year growth is now down to 68%, vs. the multiple-triple-digit-rates seen over the past year. Billings, which gained steam during the year as the high levels of tool orders pushed through suppliers’ chains, rose nearly 9% in December to $1.70B, about double what they were a year ago. Good sign: Both orders and sales posted single-digit gains following single-digit declines in November. As for year-on-year comparisons, there was nowhere to go but back down to earth. Bad sign: Orders have been in negative territory M/M four out of the last five months, giving up $300M/16% in the process; that’ll translate to lower sales in coming months, which will reflect in tool suppliers’ profits.
  • The book-to-bill ratio fell in December to 0.90, not far from but noticeably below the parity mark of 1.0. (B:B >1.0 indicates more business coming vs. going out; B:B<1.0 means the opposite.) That means $90 worth of orders were received for every $100 billed during the month. Good sign: The B:B’s not too far from the 1.0 parity mark, so a good month could tip it back over. Bad sign: The B:B has been below 1.0 for three months now, after being in the ~1.2 range for most of the year. We haven’t seen three consecutive sub-1.0 B:B since the spring of 2009, and the trend now is clearly heading down.
  • Calculating preliminary 2010 full-year data, semiconductor equipment billings look to have risen 145% from 2009 to $16.72B, with billings up 203% to $18.40B. Good sign: Triple-digit growth! (And positive signs for 2011 are emerging, like Intel’s big capex splurge.) Bad sign: The Y/Y peak appears to have been in the spring (April-May).



In Japan the trend’s the same: heading down. December billings for tool suppliers sunk 7% to ¥99.43B (US $), while bookings declined more than 8% to ¥106.83B, according to data from the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ). Like SEMI’s numbers, Japanese bookings have shed their growth in recent months (down 16% for bookings). The B:B is still above parity at 1.07 (meaning $107 came in as orders for every $100 going out as sales), but Japan’s B:B is typically higher than SEMI’s version, having touched 1.5 or more in recent months, and have been steadily decreasing as well.



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